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Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) will mark a major milestone with the introduction of a new dispatch tool for grid-connected wind resources.

The IESO says the ability to dispatch wind - scheduled to take effect Sept. 11 - comes at a pivotal point in Ontario's transition to a more sustainable fuel mix. By February 2015, an expected 7.4 GW of wind and solar power will be connected across the distribution and transmission networks.

The ability to dispatch wind adds an important lever to the reliable operation of the bulk power system. It gives operators another source of flexibility to meet ramping requirements as demand for electricity increases and decreases over the day, and to manage surplus baseload generation.

Within the availability of wind, wind turbines can be highly flexible, increasing and decreasing output very quickly in response to system needs.

According to the IESO, the dispatch will apply to 1.7 GW of existing transmission-connected wind resources, as well as an estimated 3 GW of transmission-connected wind and 280 MW of transmission-connected solar resources expected to come into service over the next 18 months.

Distribution-based wind and solar facilities, forecast to total almost 2.4 GW during this period, will not be subject to grid dispatch. However, the output from those facilities will now be visible to the IESO's system operators. The enhancements also include state-of-art wind forecasting to assist in planning and executing daily operations.

The IESO says that overall, the 18-month outlook projects adequate generation and transmission capability to meet consumer demands over the next year-and-a-half, including a 2014 summer peak forecast approaching 25,000 MW in extreme weather conditions.

Ontario is in the final stages of ridding itself of coal-fired generation, as approximately 3 GW of supply is being taken out of service.

The remaining coal-fired units at Lambton and Nanticoke will cease operations by the end of 2013, according to the IESO. The Thunder Bay facility is currently slated to stop burning coal by no later than the end of 2014.

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